Kenya Airways to convert Dreamliners into freighters

Two lessors have granted Kenya Airways (KQ) to repurpose two of its Dreamliner planes into cargo planes.

In a decision informed by higher demand for cargo transportation, Kenya Airways (KQ) has announced plans to convert two of its Dreamliner planes into cargo planes.

Two lessors have granted Kenya Airways (KQ) to repurpose two of its Dreamliner planes into cargo planes.  This move is meant to increase the airline’s cargo planes to supplement the existing size in the wake of diminishing demand for passenger flying.

Having reported a loss of Ksh 12.98 billion, the operator laid off over a thousand of its staff which included about 650 contract staff, and a recent 590 offered voluntary early retirement.

While the lockdown protracted earlier in the year, the airline converted some of its Boeing 787 aircraft into freighters. The move allowed the carrier ferry close to 50% of goods. Removing seats on the aircraft will allow space to accommodate more freight.

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Some months back, KQ which has about 38 fleets and nine Dreamliner on its fleet started talks with lessors, seeking to return the leased aircraft in an effort to cut expenses.


KQ resumed international flights early last month heading to about 30 destinations for the first time since the routes were suspended in March. This is down from 56 cities where it flew before the outbreak of the pandemic.

According to the airline CEO, Allan Kilavuka, they were negotiating with the lessors to charge them for when the planes are flying. Otherwise, they sought to return the aircraft that are not in use and therefore reduce rentals charges.

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Kenyan airline CEO, Allan Kilavuka

Kilavuka explained that “…there are fewer destinations and fewer frequencies at the moment and we need to respond to that as these destinations will require us to fly smaller fleets…”  

KQ projects to operate at 38% capacity at the end of 2020, 60% capacity by 2022, and a return to full operations in 2023.  

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